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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 10 months ago

Mask-making workshop coming to SoBo

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Photographer Carmine Warren will be teaching a Worbla mask-making workshop at SoBo Art Gallery.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

A few years ago, Carmine Warren wanted to figure out a way to take his photography to a new level. The portrait and fashion photographer wanted his photos to be unique, and he was able to do so with the help of his niece.

One evening, she showed him a few YouTube videos that introduced him to what would become a new artistic medium that would take his photography to a new level: Worbla thermoplastic material. 

“One of the things about my photography many years ago is my work was looking like everybody else’s,” Warren said. “I’m at my brother-in-law’s house one night four or five years ago, and my niece pulls me aside and says, ‘I gotta show you something.’ … They pull up YouTube and they pull up these Worbla videos. I (was) absolutely fascinated by this.”

That night, Warren watched hours’ worth of Worbla videos on YouTube with his niece and family members. Soon, he began crafting with Worbla himself and started making items to use in his photography.

“The next day, I ordered everything you could possibly imagine (for Worbla),” he said. “I ordered three or four sheets of Worbla, I ordered a heat gun, I order silicone mats — everything you needed.”

Today, Warren considers himself both a photographer and Worbla artist. He will be teaching how to create masks using Worbla in a workshop at the SoBo Art Gallery, 127 S. Boyd St., in Winter Garden. The workshop takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20. Cost of attendance is $120 for Winter Garden Art Association members and $130 for non-members. Those interested can sign up online at wgart.org, by phone or at the SoBo Art Gallery. Spaces will not be reserved until full payment is received.

The headpiece this model is wearing is Carmine Warren’s first Worbla creation. Photo by: Carmine Warren

 The mask-making workshop is being held to complement the Winter Garden Art Association’s upcoming gala event in February. Although the workshop is limited to six people, the WGAA will add another workshop before the gala if the Jan. 20 workshop fills up, said Philip Self, executive director of the art association.

“Our fifth … gala is Friday, Feb. 15, and has a masquerade theme,” Self said. “We thought the workshop would be a perfect complement to that important annual gala here in Winter Garden, (because) it gives our artists and attendees a chance to make their own mask for the event and also learn a skill that has a lot of potential creative forms and expressions.”

Worbla is a brand of nontoxic, thermoplastic material that, once heated, can be molded into a nearly endless variety shapes and designs. It’s often used for making costume and movie props and is a popular material among the cosplay community because of its versatility and durability, Warren said. He uses Worbla to craft various accessories — such as horned head pieces and corsets — for models to wear during fashion shoots. 

Items created out of Worbla can last a lifetime. Worbla can be repainted and reshaped numerous times even after an item has been created with it, making it a versatile and customizable artistic medium, Warren said.

“I’m no longer creating something to stand out to be different,” he said. “I’m now creating art — for me personally — that is going to be around for a very, very long time.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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